Summary : Not bad, but hard to place in the correct position for the camera to see through it.
Route 66 Navigation and Panoramic Car Kit.
Founded in 1992, Route 66 started out by creating an alternative Navigation application for your Android devices competing with the likes of Google Maps and Waze. Not only did they develop a navigation application, but they also offer custom car mounts for a good selection of devices called the Panoramic Car Kit.
What makes them any different to existing navigation application available on the play store? The first thing you’ll notice is they have a function called “Follow Me” which presents an augmented reality view using your phones camera. They then overlay a car on the display, which can be changed, and all you do is follow it. It actually works very well and even slows down and gets closer as you approach traffic and turns in the road. The follow car even has real working lights so you can see it breaking and signaling.
Practical use left me uninspired. It has a selection of different views you can choose from, but changing them meant pressing men button and going through options. It would have nice to simply swipe left and right on the screen to change the view. In fact most option in the application require you going to the menu system and selecting options, not allowing you do to much from the actual ,mapping display itself.
Here a quick video of the “Follow Me” function in action.
Not a bad system at all, but is it any good for the real world? One flaw in my opinion, is this mode requires you to watch your phones screen instead of the road, which could be a distraction. I guess this also depends on the placement of your phone on your windshield. You can disable this feature and use regular old mapping like any other Navigation so you at least have the choice.
What’s nice about Route 66 is the ability to download the maps so you don’t have to be connected to the internet for your navigation system to work.
Here’s the list of some of the basic features included in the app.
- Instant access to over 100 maps
- Browse maps, search, calculate and simulate routes: it is all free!
- The latest, up-to-date maps from top-rated map suppliers like TomTom, AutoNavi, Sensis
- Free map updates
- Works both with server based maps and maps stored on your phone
- Download maps directly to your phone, no computer needed
- Smart caching of map data: never download a map segment twice
- High resolution 3D content in hundreds of cities around the world
- Tap any point on the map and start route calculation straight away
- Automatic switch between day and night colors, choose custom map colors
- Access Wikipedia and local weather reports directly from the map
- Powerful map 3D rendering with full hardware acceleration
- Multi-touch map browsing: smooth and easy
- Maps optimized for high resolution displays and tablets
- Directly call a Point of interest or visit its website
- Share your favorite locations with friends
Above and beyond the basic navigation functions, Route 66 also offer a lot of premium options such as Red Light camera options, Roadblocks, route planning and simulation, Traffic information and turn-by-turn guidance. You do have to pay for the premium options, but you can try them out for free for a short while if you want to try it for yourself.
Here’s the list of some of the premium features included in the app.
- Turn-by-turn voice guided navigation with uncluttered visual guidance
- 2D, 3D and Augmented Reality navigation
- Drive or walk: always the best route
- Choose between Fastest route and Shortest route
- Add waypoints to your route at any time
- Plan your trip ahead, your routes are automatically saved
- Navigation shortcuts: easy access to key functions during your trip
- Adjust the navigation display to your own preferences
- Lane Guidance
- Adjustable speed warnings
- Real Time Traffic information with dynamic route recalculation (in-app purchase)
- Speed camera warnings with automatic database updates (in-app purchase)
- Compass enhanced pedestrian navigator: map always pointing in the right direction
- Fully interactive maps, even during navigation
- Voice guidance available in 59 different languages and dialects
- Voice guidance continues when app is in background
- Try all premium features like Navigation, Traffic information and Speed cameras for FREE before you buy a licence
Navigation also fell short with routing not giving the best options and options reroute where non-existent or hidden somewhere that I couldn’t find them.
There is so much to this application that I can’t detail every option here and you should go give a try and see what you think. You can download it form the play store here.
What about the Route 66 Panoramic Car Kits?
Route 66 not only created the software to give you turn-by-turn navigation, but they’ve also gone above and beyond and created Panoramic Car Kits to mount a handful of the latest devices appropriately so that your camera can be used by their navigation app.
The Route 66 Panoramic Car Kits are currently offered for the following device:
- Apple iPhone 3GS
- Apple iPhone 4/4S
- Apple iPhone 5
- HTC One X
- Samsung Galaxy Note
- Samsung Galaxy Note II
- Samsung Galaxy S/S Plus
- Samsung Galaxy S II
- Samsung Galaxy S III
The Route 66 Panoramic Car Kit is a uniquely designed, custom fit mount for any of these devices in your car. It’s incredibly stable and provides a clear view of the road for your devices camera. The arm that extends from the base suction mount to the phone head is joined in the middle and can be rotated through 45 degree locking positions. The head unit itself, where you dock your phone, is held in place with a ball joint allowing freedom of movement in most directions.
Included in the box is the car mount, the phone dock specific to the phone you ordered, the dual port car charger for your auxiliary socket (cigarette lighter style) in your car, a USB cable and sticky back mounting disk allowing mounting to your dashboard instead of the windshield.
The first issue I found with the Route 66 Panoramic Car Kit was the inability to rotate my Samsung Galaxy Note II vertical. The head piece of the kit is too close to the mounting arm and with the angle of the Windshield glass in my Prius, the top edge of my phone hit the glass and I had to angle my phone so far forward that it wasn’t usable.
In the Horizontal position, it worked perfectly and offered a very stable and secure mounting system, even for the likes of Samsung Galaxy Note II. Phones install and release very easily and the mount never fell from my windshield like some other suction mounting systems.
The mounting system reminds me of the mounting system I had for my Google Nexus One. The bezel of the mount rotates and pulls the suction inside instead of the more popular lever type found on other mounting systems. I really like this type of locking system as it looks substantially cleaner when mounted in your car.
The included charger offers dual outputs so you can charge two devices at once. One of the outputs is 1A and the second output provides 2.1A of charging current for faster charging.
The included sticky backed mounting disk can be attached to your dashboard, if you prefer this style of mounting over your windshield.
Overall the system is very well made and I’m sure for smaller devices the vertical mounting position would not be an issue, but for my Galaxy Note II, it’s a fail for me. If my windshield didn’t have the steep aerodynamic angle, I’m sure would be fine too. Alas, I have the Prius and they should have taken this limitation into account when they designed the mounts.
The mounts cost 19.99 euros with equates to around $26 at the time of writing this article. FREE worldwide shipping is also provided, which is an added bonus. The Panoramic Car Kits are well worth the money when you consider each one is custom made for each device so minimizing its size. No locking pads to adjust, just insert your device and your done. Inserting and removing your phone is a breeze as long as you don’t have a case on your phone.
Overall I would give the Route 66 Panoramic Car Kit a 3.5 out of 5. I just get around the design floor of not allowing vertical mounting in my car. Had it not been for this flaw, my score would probably have been out 4.5 out of 5, which is worth considering if you look at these kits for smaller devices.
If you want to find out more information and check out the latest Panoramic Car Kits as they become available, head over to the route66 website.
Cost: 19.99 euros (about $26)
Product Link: http://store.66.com/US/